The State of the College

Dear Members of the Central Community,

Thanks to your ongoing and enthusiastic support, it has been a banner year for Central College. Here are a few of the extraordinary successes we’ve accomplished together in 2018-19:


Last year was our best ever for the Journey Scholarship Fund. Collectively, you contributed more than $1.34 million — 5% more than the college’s goal and $100,000 more than the fund’s ve-year average. This academic year, 640 students received a Journey Scholarship thanks to your generosity. All donations to the Journey Scholarship Fund go directly to students.

You also helped us create 10 new endowed scholarships, bringing the total number to 270. Endowed scholarships also directly support student education and leave a sustainable, long-term legacy of generosity.

Other generous donations funded research, faculty development and more. In fact, we received 50% more in restricted funds than we did in 2017-18, including funds for such capital projects as the Peace Mall and Douwstra Auditorium renovations.

The Forever Dutch® initiative, which funds updates for athletics facilities, received nearly $1 million in additional support. Because of your generous support, renovations will begin in the spring, with a target of finishing locker room and athletic training room updates by Fall 2020. All in all, more than 4,000 of you donated over $4.6 million to support Central’s students and community.

These gifts helped us achieve all the accomplishments that follow. Please know we are more grateful for your support than we can express. The value of your gifts will continue to multiply, generation upon generation, as our students go on to do great things for Central and the world.


Central welcomed with open arms its largest incoming class in five years with this fall’s group of 357 students. That’s thanks in part to the college’s strategic investments in targeted admission, financial aid and communications work — and to the extraordinary efforts of the entire Central community. That number is 21% greater than the number of Fall 2018 incoming students. Enrollment for the 2019-20 school year includes 337 first-year students and 20 transfer students, compared with 278 first-year students and 17 transfer students in Fall 2018. Of the Fall 2019 incoming students, roughly:

  • 65% are from Iowa.
  • 35% are residents of other states from Massachusetts to Hawaii, including 38 from Illinois and 19 from Arizona.
  • 30%-plus are planning to major in a STEM field.
  • 20%-plus are ethnically diverse — nearly twice the percentage of the Class of 2019.
  • 16% are siblings of Central students or alumni.
  • 10%-plus are children of alumni.


The college continues its largest landscaping project since the pond was built 55 years ago. The college is completely transforming the area between the chapel and pond. A new amphitheater will host outdoor events and was dedicated in honor of Wallace Spencer Stepenske ’64 during Homecoming festivities. A history garden will honor Central’s veterans and recalls important moments in the life of the college. We anticipate the history garden will be complete in Spring 2020.

A breathtakingly beautiful project, RDG Planning & Design of Des Moines sketched the work with input from lead donors, college leaders and history and art faculty members. Make plans to visit this compelling new focal point in the heart of campus. The renovation is 100% donor-funded. For information on how to fund one of several monuments planned for the history garden, contact Michelle Wilkie, director of development, or 641-628-5281.


For years, an overwhelming percentage of Central students have graduated on time, taken advantage of an internship, job shadowing or community service experience and graduated career-ready thanks to the preparation received here. Now we’re pledging those experiences to all Central students who meet certain criteria and offering every sophomore a free, weeklong Career Kickstarter class.

Next fall, we will tout a women’s varsity triathlon team. Triathlon will be Central’s 20th NCAA Division III sport. Central is the 31st college in the nation to offer this sport and the second in Iowa.

In addition, Central’s 100-plus co-curricular offerings are now even more robust with more club sports, more student organizations, more themed housing, a new honor society for first-generation students and new membership in the nation’s largest leadership honor society. For more information on these offerings, see “Around the Pond,” and “Central Leads the Way.”


For years, colleges and universities have been trapped in a pricing model that featured ever-escalating published prices combined with ever-escalating financial aid offerings to students. The inevitable result was a published price wildly divergent from the actual cost most students paid to attend after receiving financial aid. These artificially high published prices discouraged many students and their families from even considering a high-quality education at a private college.

So, after considerable study, Central decided to offer a new annual tuition price. Current students will pay no more in 2020-21 than they are this year, and prospective students will have a much clearer idea of the actual cost of a Central education before they apply and get their aid packages.

We hope this change encourages more qualied students to apply to Central. But even if it doesn’t, we’re proud to take this initiative. It’s honest, it’s fair and it’s just the right thing to do. And as I mentioned above, we’re offering more scholarships than ever before. Thank you for your ongoing support of Central College and our students.

For more information, see “Central Leads the Way.”

– Mark Putnam
Central College President

View 2018-19 Annual Report*

*Pre-audit information. Subject to change.

To encourage serious, intellectual discourse on Civitas, please include your first and last name when commenting. Anonymous comments will be removed.

Comments are closed.